Shareware Beach

Saturday, 1 April 2006

Top Rankings on Google, MSN and Yahoo

Filed under: Cyberspace — Jan @ 18:01

Search results returned by the major search engines often leave me frustrated. I’ve wanted to blog about this topic for some time. Today, I stumbled upon a surprising example.

This morning I was messing around with the February CTP of Windows Vista. I tried installing Delphi 2006, but it didn’t get past installing its many prerequisites. So I fired up IE and typed “delphi 2006″ install vista in the search box. The first page of MSN’s search results didn’t list any pages talking about installing Delphi 2006 on Vista. However, the #1 search result had me quite surprised. So I repeated the search on Google Thailand, Google.com and Yahoo. The results were quite consistent.

The #1, #1, #2 and #4 hits in these four searches, respectively, pointed to my very own blog! The search engines were telling me I am the most likely source for an answer to my own question.

The search engines picked up an article about my experiences with Delphi 2006 I wrote in January. I obviously mentioned Delphi 2006. I also talked about installing something, namely Update 1. I also mentioned Windows Vista in my summary of Borland’s road map for Delphi. But I didn’t say anything about installing Delphi 2006 on Vista.

All of the other top 10 search results were like that. They all mentioned the 3 concepts I was searching for (“Delphi 2006″, “install”, and “Vista”), but none said anything about those 3 concepts related to each other (“How do I install Delphi 2006 on Vista”).

The major search engines are very good at finding pages relative to a single concept, but they often fail at producing useful results when I want to find multiple concepts related to each other. The worst situation is when it picks up one concept in the main text of the page, and another in a link in a navigation sidebar (e.g. a page talking about installing Visual Studio on Vista, and a link to the site’s Delphi section in the sidebar). It’s probably difficult for a search engine to figure out that my blog post doesn’t talk about what I was searching for. But excluding navigation sidebars should be relatively easy.

If anyone is trying to compete with MSN, Google, or Yahoo, solving this problem is what would make me switch to your search engine in an instance. Perhaps there simply aren’t any pages explaining how to install Delphi 2006 on Vista. If so, just tell me, so I can quit looking.

Which I ended up doing anyway. If Delphi 2007 runs on Vista that’ll be fine with me. Seems like it might be out before Vista after all, if Borland or the new company keeps the new tradition of releasing next year’s Delphi in the 4th quarter.

At least I got to enjoy my blog being #1 for a search term that people might actually search for. By the time you read this, my new post will probably have taken over the #1 spot. It would be a valid search result, since I did talk about installing Delphi 2006 on Vista, but you won’t learn anything about how to do so.

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